Iraq's Revolution: Bastille Day in Baghdad

The chain of events that led to the rule of Saddam Hussein began with the murder on July 14th, 1958 of the 23-year-old King Faisal. Antony Hornyold was a junior diplomat at the British embassy in Baghdad at the time.

New order:crowds in Baghdad agitate for the death sentence following the trial of the former foreign minister, Fadhil Jamali, December 1958. Getty Images/Popperfoto

"The sun shines in my city
The bells ring out for heroes
Awake my beloved we are free…"

So wrote Abdul Wahab Batati in a poem to commemorate the Iraq Revolution of July 1958, which occurred exactly 169 years after the storming of the Bastille in Paris. Apart from sharing the same birthday, the French and Iraqi revolutions were both regicidal and were both greeted with euphoria.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week